Tomatillo Salsa with Fresh Tomatillos

Wondering how to make tomatillo salsa? Zesty homemade tomatillo salsa with fresh tomatillos is a perfect late summer appetizer!

Homemade Tomatillo Salsa with Fresh Tomatillos | A Couple Cooks

Before we started getting interested in Latin cooking, the word “tomatillo” would have fallen on deaf ears. A few years ago, I probably would have passed off these strange-looking little green “tomatoes” at first glance. But when I saw a huge pile this weekend at the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market, I knew just what I wanted to try – homemade tomatillo salsa with fresh tomatillos. Granted, not everyone was quite as excited as I was about these little guys. They were intentionally priced to sell, since no one seemed to be biting.

Related: Homemade Tortilla Chips

We’d only ever tasted store-bought tomatillo salsa, so we were excited to try a fresh tomatillo salsa recipe. The taste of a fresh tomatillo was unlike anything I can describe – a combination of sour, sweet, and earthy. Delicious! There are lots of cooked versions of tomatillo salsa – which would be like a salsa verde you’d find at the store. However, we enjoyed the raw taste so much that we decided to stick with a fresh salsa verde. Adding a bit of sugar gives just the right amount of balance to the sourness of the tomatillos.

What are tomatillos?

Despite their similar appearance and name, tomatillos and green tomatoes are two completely different foods. Tomatillos look like unripe tomatoes and have a husk that leaves a sticky residue behind when you peel it off (just rinse the tomatillos under warm water to remove the residue!). They’re much denser than tomatoes and contain less water, and are slightly grainy in texture, yet still juicy somehow.

Tomatillos can be eaten raw in salsas and on sandwiches, grilled, or roasted and used in any number of sauces and soups. A few of our favorite ways to enjoy tomatillos include our homemade salsa verde and this roasted tomatillo and black bean soup.

How to make fresh tomatillo salsa

Making this homemade salsa is as easy as dicing the ingredients and mixing everything together. I suggest dicing the tomatillos quite finely since they are a little dense, and you’ll want to wash your hands thoroughly after touching the jalapeño to avoid getting any pepper juice in your eyes. If red onions are too pungent for you, try running the sliced onion under cold water for a few seconds and patting it dry before adding to your salsa. The water mellows out the flavor of the onions without taking away from the overall flavor of this salsa.

This homemade tomatillo salsa can be eaten right away, but it actually tastes better the longer it sits in the fridge. If you have time, I’d recommend letting this salsa rest for at least an hour to give the flavors time to come together. Maybe you could use that time to make some homemade tortilla chips—the ways to enjoy this salsa are endless!

How to store tomatillo salsa

Keep this fresh tomatillo salsa in a sealed container in the fridge. It will last up to a week, but you’ll need to stir it a bit before serving (the juices will settle at the bottom of the container, but that’s normal!).

Fresh tomatillos

Ways to enjoy tomatillo salsa

This homemade salsa is delicious with just about anything — chips, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, you name it. It adds a burst of freshness to any dish without being overpowering. A few of our all-time favorite ways to eat this fresh tomatillo salsa are:

  • On tacos — This salsa would pair well with both vegetarian and regular tacos. Swap out the store-bought salsa verde for this tomatillo salsa recipe on these vegan lentil tacos.
  • With scrambled eggs — Transform these simple scrambled eggs by topping them with a few spoonfuls of homemade salsa.
  • Atop grilled veggies burgers — Tomatoes on veggie burgers are normal, so putting salsa on top makes perfect sense! Our grilled veggie burger recipe is a fan favorite and would taste incredible with tomatillo salsa on top.
  • Spooned onto enchiladas — Enchiladas often taste quite heavy. Add a pop of fresh flavor by topping them with salsa! We particularly love these sweet potato and black bean enchiladas. 
  • On sweet potatoes — Sweet potatoes pair incredibly well with spicier salsa. Top a plain roasted sweet potato with tomatillo salsa and black beans, and be prepared to be blown away.

Looking for more homemade salsa recipes?

Outside of this tomatillo salsa, here are a few of our favorite salsa recipes:

Looking for more easy Mexican recipes?

This tomatillo salsa recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Homemade Tomatillo Salsa with Fresh Tomatillos

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Wondering how to make tomatillo salsa? Zesty homemade tomatillo salsa with fresh tomatillos is a perfect late summer appetizer!


  • 1 pound tomatillos
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper (or more if desired)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and wash them well, then chop them into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Mince 1/2 cup red onion, 2 cloves garlic, and 1/2 jalapeño pepper, taking proper care to wash your hands after handling the pepper. Chop 1/2 cup cilantro.
  3. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and add the juice of 1 lime, 1 teaspoon sugar, and a few pinches kosher salt. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve with tortilla chips, in a burrito, or as an accompaniment to chicken or fish.
  • Category: Dip
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: tomatillo salsa, homemade salsa

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    Katy (KatySheCooks)
    September 27, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Fresh is wonderful, but I also love roasted tomatillo salsa. Which then makes a wonderful roasted tomatillo guacamole ; ) (recipe straight-up in The Joy of Cooking)

    • Reply
      September 27, 2011 at 8:47 am

      Yum. We’ll have to try it!

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 11:54 am

    This is such a timely post. I have a couple of tomatillos and jalapeno at home that I need to use, :).

    • Reply
      September 27, 2011 at 11:55 am

      Haha! Perfect :)

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Beautiful picture of the tomatillo!

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Not too long ago I hadn’t even heard of tomatillos before until I wanted to try a Mexican recipe that called for tomatillos.. I searched everywhere but they were no where to be found! I’ve seen them recently for the first time so I will be buying them soon to try for myself!

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Stunning photo of the tomatillos. I appreciate the ingredient names being in bold.
    Lisa in Indy.

    • Reply
      September 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      Thank you! We try to bold the names of the ingredients so that you can easily see what you need for each step – I’m glad that it is helpful!

      We also repeat the ingredient quantity in each step to avoid having to look back at the ingredient list when you are reading the step. Hopefully it helps to avoid some of the “How many tablespoons did I need again?” questions that I find always come up with the traditional way of writing recipes!

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I discovered the same thing this summer! I tried fresh and salsa verde, and I liked homemade salsa verde so much I canned some for the winter. Never tried frying, but that’s an incredible idea!

  • Reply
    Liz @ Southern Charm
    September 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I can really go for some mexican now! This salsa looks amazing!

  • Reply
    September 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Wow, this is really awesome. I always love a simple recipe. So glad I found your blog!

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